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Getting back to a healthy diet after the holidays can be tricky! With leftover cookies sitting on the counter and half a bottle of eggnog still in the fridge, it can be tempting to drag out the holiday dining for a few days or weeks longer than planned.
Though indulging during the holidays is perfectly normal, studies show that the pounds most adults put on between November and January never come off.
Instead of letting those extra slices of pie hang around your hips, get back on track with your health in the new year! Follow these simple tips to get back to your pre-holiday baseline.
1.) Start a new exercise routine.
During the colder and darker winter months, many of us find ourselves moving less and eating more. As a New Year’s resolution to yourself, commit to a new fitness regimen. If you’re feeling ambitious, embark on a 30-day workout challenge for the month of January. If you’d prefer to ease into things, set yourself a smaller goal, such as exercising for a total of two hours each week. By committing to a fitness plan of your choice, you’re guaranteed to boost your self-esteem and energy levels, improving your well-being for the year ahead.
2.) Put the cookie jar away.
Sometimes, holiday snacks are just too hard to resist. Once your New Year’s Eve festivities are over, it’s time to put the festive nibbles away. Throw away any snacks that you know you won’t, or really shouldn’t, eat. Tuck your favorite indulgences away in a place that’s less visible and accessible, such as inside a sealed container in your basement pantry. By limiting your exposure to these treats, you can better ensure that you’ll treat yourself to these snacks in a more controlled manner.
3.) Season sensibly.
To effortlessly curb your caloric intake, simply switch up the ways in which you’re seasoning your food. Instead of adding creamy sauces, dressings, and gravies to your dishes, opt for spice rubs, yogurt-based dips, and fresh, homemade toppings like salsa and pico de gallo. Consider cooking your foods with half of the butter or oil recommended by standard recipes. By limiting these throw-away calories in your diet, you can enjoy other treats with less guilt.
4.) Stop drinking and start rehydrating.
Even adults who don’t drink regularly often find themselves sipping a few mulled wines or cocktails during the holiday season. When alcohol consumption reaches even moderate levels, it can wreak havoc on the body, leading to headaches, digestive discomfort, insomnia, and fatigue. The liquid calories packed into alcoholic drinks can make it challenging to maintain a healthy body weight, too. Instead of drinking throughout the month of January, put the bar cart in the closet and invest in a large reusable water bottle. Consider adding some psyllium and lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to your water in the morning to give your digestive system an extra boost. Save your alcohol consumption for special events or weekend meals. Your gut is guaranteed to thank you for the effort!
5.) Switch up the sources of your nutrition.
All of us need a balance of fat, protein, and carbohydrates in our diets. Instead of heavily restricting one of these macronutrients, seek out healthy dining options in all three of these categories. Instead of eating highly-processed carbohydrates like white bread and sweets, opt for whole grains and fresh, seasonal fruit. Rather than getting all of your daily fat from junk foods and full-fat dairy, strive to integrate other sources of healthy fats into your diet through snacks like avocado and unsalted nuts. For protein, avoid bars and opt for naturally protein-packed options, such as cottage cheese and lean meats. By fulfilling your macronutrient goals in a healthy way, your body and immune system will become stronger and more balanced.
7.) Manage cravings mindfully.
When cravings for junk food strike, take a few minutes to process your feelings. Are you craving a sugary snack because you ate irregularly throughout the day? Are you using that bag of chips to calm your nerves or ease your depression? By identifying the source of your hunger, as well as whether your craving is physical, mental, or emotional in origin, you can make a more informed decision regarding whether or not to give in to your urges. When in doubt, drink some water or a mug of tea and give yourself a few minutes to see if the craving passes. Perhaps you’ll find yourself desiring a more nutrient-dense food; maybe you’ll decide that that cupcake is exactly what you need. By taking a few minute to mindfully process your cravings, you can avoid binging on snacks in ways that you might regret later.
8.) Treat yourself with kindness.
Holiday weight gain affects many of us. At the end of the day, it’s important to remember to be kind to yourself. An extra pound or two isn’t the end of the world! Being good to yourself and taking care of your body is more important than having the perfect dimensions or the “right” number on the scale. Remember this, and don’t restrict your diet too heavily! By finding a balance between nutrition and enjoyment, you can become happy and healthy with your weight and your daily diet.
Getting back on track after seasonal overeating doesn’t need to be difficult! By picking up a few healthy habits and reducing your odds of slipping into certain pitfalls, you can start off 2018 feeling healthy, balanced, and strong.
Photo: (c) Yunus Malik / fotolia.com